collecting rocks

Apollo 17 astronaut collecting rock
samples on the Moon

People have always wanted to know more about the Moon. In 1609 an Italian scientist named Galileo used a telescope to study it.

In 1959 the Soviet spacecraft Luna 2 was the first spacecraft to reach the Moon. It crash landed. Another spacecraft, Luna 3, sent the first pictures of the far side (back) of the Moon. From the pictures we found out that there are not as many dark areas on the far side as there are on the side that we see from Earth. There were 24 unmanned Luna missions in all.

luna 16
Luna 16

In 1961 the United States began sending unmanned spacecraft to the Moon. Many pictures were taken. Then Surveyor 1 landed on the Moon in 1966, and sent back information about its surface. There were seven surveyor missions to the Moon between May 1966 and January 1968.

Surveyor on the moon

In 1968 the first manned orbit of the Moon was made by Apollo 8 astronauts. On July 20, 1969, the crew of the Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon. When Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon he said "that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

There were five more Apollo landings on the Moon. Apollo 17 was the last mission (in 1972). Astronauts did experiments and gathered samples

On January 6, 1998, the Lunar Prospector was launched. This spacecraft was shaped like a drum (1.2 meters tall and l.4 meters across). There were no cameras on board, only instruments to map the Moon's surface. The information was immediately sent back to Earth. The mission ended when the craft crashed on the Moon.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched 2009 and has collected a large amount of data.

Lunar Prospector
Lunar Prospector


Astronaut near Plum Crater photo

Apollo 17 Lander on the Moon photo
Apollo 8 launch photo Apollo 8 in space photo
Apollo 11 returns photo Apollo 11 astronaut on the Moon photo

Exploring the Moon - all missions | Apollo crew members

My other web pages about the MOON ---



background for this web page
"Footprint on the Moon"
from NASA image gallery.

web page by J.Giannetta
updated April 2009